It doesn't get much closer than this.

Through six games of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series, the seventh-seeded Washington Capitals and the No. 1-seeded New York Rangers have alternated wins and losses, and have been tied or within one goal 90 percent of the time. The club that has scored first has won every game in the matchup, and since New York's 3-1 victory in the opener, the next five games have been decided by one goal - including two that went to overtime.

So when these teams face off once more Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in Game 7, it is hardly a stretch to figure that the Caps and Rangers will stage another nail-biter.

Whoever prevails will face the New Jersey Devils in the East finals.


Jeff Carter still has trouble wrapping his mind around the surreal direction his hockey career has taken in the last year since the Flyers got rid of him and Mike Richards, his good friend and teammate.

After a stop in Columbus, Carter improbably reunited with Richards in Los Angeles, where they're playing for the surging Kings and living together in a beautiful beach town.

And in the sweetest development of all, Carter and Richards are still playing while the rebuilt Flyers' season is over.

The two will be in the Kings lineup for the Western Conference finals opener on Sunday alongside linemate Dustin Penner, another veteran earning redemption in Los Angeles' surprising playoff run.

Carter and Richards acknowledge no grudge toward the Flyers. They say they are too focused on the playoffs.

- Associated Press